Dr.J / The Gold,
Added on April 15th, 2013 (2575 views)
Tell us something about yourself.
My name is Alex Goldblat. I was born on 27th May 1974 in Moscow, Russia, but my family moved to Israel when I was three. I still live in Israel now and work in a high-tech firm called Sapiens as their Quality Assurance man. I deal mostly with automatic testing programs like Winrunner.
What handle(s) did you use and how did you come up with it/them?
My handle was always Dr.J, which I took from EA's classic 1984 basketball game One on One: Julius Erving and Larry Bird. Bird was an NBA player for the Philadelphia 76ers whom I really admired (for me, he was even better than Michael Jordan). I remember playing hours and hours on that game back in my datasette era. Good times!
What group(s) were you in?
My first C64 scene action came when I formed a small (and, to be honest, rather lame) Israeli group together with my brother Danny (Kik/Trinomic) back in 1988 or possibly late 1987. We called ourselves The Gold (a shortening of our surname Goldblat) and sold some imported games which had been cracked by The Force. I used to buy games from Danny Bouzaglo, who had formed an Israeli division of The Force at that time. Later on, in 1988 I think, I joined a bigger group (by Israeli standards) called Hotshot and served as their graphics man, importer and swapper alongside my good friends Avi Lev, Yossi Taguri (Ice MC) and Ohad Barzilay (Civax). We made some cool intros and wanted to make a magazine called Elite, which however never got released (Yossi, I'm still waiting for that release by the way!). Late in 1990, I joined The Force as their main swapper together with Danny Bouzaglo who gave me most of his contacts because he needed help to disseminate our releases. The other Israeli members were Guy Shavitt, Nir P., Yariv, Ronny and Viny. I also sold our cracked/imported games to Israeli kids under the Force label. It was a fun time, I guess. When I joined the army in November 1992, I was unable to continue my C64 activities and left The Force. I still did a bit of swapping, but that was all.
What roles have you fulfilled?
In 1987-1988, I was the leader, graphics man, cracker and seller of The Force games for The Gold. In 1988-1990, I was the main swapper, game importer and cover designer for Hotshot. In 1990-1993, I was the main swapper and cover designer for the Israeli division of The Force. I also supplied original games plus prepared and disseminated notes for our releases.
How long were you active for?
I would say I was quite active on the scene between 1988 and 1992, and in particular while I was in The Force.
Tell us about those years and how you got into the scene in the first place.
First of all, I bought C64 games as a child and was enthralled by the cool intros and demos I saw, especially the stuff from European groups like Ikari+Talent (I loved those guys!), Genesis Project, Crazy, Illusion, Flash Inc. and many others, but also of course releases on the Israeli scene, mainly those from The Force (including demos, intros and many imported games) and all the Sidchip Scratchers releases by Guy Shavitt. And like I said earlier, I also used to buy games from Danny Bouzaglo.
On the emerging Israeli scene, the first groups to deal in C64 games in the 1980s were The Israeli Team (T.I.T.) and Tape Cracking Service (TCS). TCS mostly cracked games tape-to-tape because up until about 1987, almost no-one in Israel owned a 1541 drive, unlike Europe, where I think a lot of people had drives earlier than that. The hit games on tape were Rambo II, Green Beret, Out Run, Spy vs. Spy and The Way of the Exploding Fist, and these were disseminated to almost every C64 owner on the pirate market, which wasn't really covered by the law at the time, such that it was essentially "legal" to sell and buy cracked games. A turning point for Israeli C64 owners came in 1987, when disk drives and cartridges finally became cheap enough that lots of people could buy them. This raised the profile of the C64 about fivefold. Many new groups then entered the scene, most notably The Force, but also Puma, Rage and The Smugglers. They were very successful and shared their cracks far and wide. By 1988, I think over 20 groups (mostly, I fear, small and rather lame) were active on the C64 scene, though they were mainly importing games (in particular from The Force) and selling them to young boys who were addicted to new C64 games. It was very easy to get hold of C64 games back then because youth magazines always had a C64 page with buy/sell ads where anyone could offer their cracked games. You have to understand that only The Force was really active on the Israeli scene. They released the cool demos, notes, music scores, etc., and the rest mainly just imported games and sold them to the eager C64 market.
Describe a typical day for you in front of the computer.
As a child I would come home from school and wait like an addict for any packages of cool stuff from my friends. I would watch demos, read C64 magazines like Sex'n'Crime and Mamba, and of course play cool games. You did your best to make your group a success. For me, that meant disseminating The Force releases like wildfire! I also kept in regular contact with the Italian and Aussie divisions of The Force and traded with Danny on our 1440 bps modems (slow as a lame sloth).
Did you personally invent any special techniques or tools to make things easier for you?
I don't recall inventing anything specific as a contribution to the C64 scene. Sorry guys!
When you look at what you did back then, what are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the cool friends I had and of course of my involvement in The Force, which I think was a really cool and famous group with many great releases to its name. I'm really proud to have been a part of the C64 scene and have no regrets! They were great times!
Who were your heroes on the scene and why?
In no particular order: all the members of Ikari+Talent (Doc, XXX, Bod, Just Ice, Fletch), simply for being cool crackers and a great group; Maniacs of Noise are truly legendary for their terrific music; JCH, also for great tunes; Danny of The Force for being a great friend and international organiser for The Force; Guy Shavitt/SCS for great music and the very nice intros he produced; Nir P/The Force for brilliant coding and demos; all of The Force Italy (Gabriel, GI909, Ximox, Exat, Zoris, Zagor) and the Aussies (Ziggy, Vengeance, Colwyn, Bat, Insane, Psycho, Dr Detroit – sorry if I've forgotten anyone!) for being great friends; so many individuals and groups like Crazy (I very much liked Mamba), Flash Inc., Crest, Illusion, Reyn Ouwehand, Beyond Force, Clique, Hotline, G*P, TRC, Byterapers, Triad, Fairlight, Black Mail, 1001 Crew, Censor Design, DCS, Horizon, Dominators, The Sharks, Ian & Mic, 20CC (so sorry to hear about Edwin's death – RIP), The Papillons, RSI, Action, Alpha Flight 1970, Royalty, TCS (Boaz Sivack – hey!), T.I.T., International Network of Chaos, Level 99, Beastie Boys, Bonzai, Contex, Cosmos Designs, ESI, Enigma, F4CG, Jewels, Success, Gotcha/Crazy, Powerplant/Legend and many more, all for being kewl guys from cool groups.
What, for you, was the coolest thing ever invented on the C64?
In 1990, The Force shocked the whole C64 scene with a demo called Vector Victory, which was the first to show fast vectors and outstanding music by Guy Shavitt. This stunning demo broke serious new ground, and its coder Nir P received a slew of credit for his innovative routine. I also very much liked Black Mail's demos So-Phisticated 3 and Dutch Breeze, and Crazy's demo called That's Design with brilliant music by Vibrants and Maniacs of Noise and amazing graphics by Gotcha. What a talented guy he was!
Did you go to any copy-parties, meetings or tradeshows?
I only ever went to one C64 party in Ashkelon in Israel with Hotshot, and possibly a PC demo party in 1994 or 1995 arranged by Civax/Hotshot.
In your opinion, what was the scene all about?
It was a great place for cool people to congregate who loved the C64 computer and loved to create cool stuff for the C64 scene. There was and is no better scene. It was the first really cool scene for crackers and demo whores, a past time which I greatly miss. C64 rulez forever!
What were the particular highlights for you?
As I mentioned before, Vector Victory was a great demo and it was a big highlight for The Force as a group; people started to treat the group with more respect. Although I wasn't in the group at the time, all The Force's releases (demos/cracks/notes/etc.) and all the SCS releases were also particular highlights for me. Before I was in The Force, I enjoyed many of Hotshot's intros (which, in my opinion, were very cool for the time).
Any cool stories to share with us?
One story which I will never forget was the day Guy Shavitt and Nir P came to my house to talk about a new demo, and Guy played me some unreleased tunes he'd made for a game (I think it was Crazy Cars III by Titus) and asked me not to send it to anyone. Afterwards, I promptly sent it to a good friend and member of The Force in Australia, just for him to hear it, but when Guy heard about it, he was (justifiably) very angry with me. Guy, please forgive me!
Are you still in contact with any old C64 people today?
I'm trying to get in touch with all the members of The Force. I'm already in contact with Steven (a.k.a. conjuror extraordinaire Dr Detroit) and Raven plus some friends I swapped with back in my C64 days. Hi everyone!
When did you get your C64 and do you still have it lying around somewhere?
I got my C64 sometime in 1986 or 1987. I still have a machine (not the first one I got as a child though), but I don't think it works anymore. I should probably try it out one more time.
Was the C64 really as special as we like to think it was?
As a matter of fact, I think the correct answer is a big "YES!". The C64 scene arose from all the great groups and great people who made it such a nice and friendly place to be. I think the secret was that most of the people really liked the scene and wanted to create cool demos and not just show off their ability but also really contribute something to the scene with new releases (be it demos, cracks, music scores, intros, notes, magazines, etc.). I am proud to say that my C64 days were one of the best times in my life and I made many really great friends from all over the world. I remember dreaming about getting new stuff from my contacts. I loved every moment from the C64 scene!
When can we expect to see some new C64 output from you? :)
I don't know, but I'm currently studying 6502 code with help from Steven Dalton (Dr Detroit/TF) and hope to have something nice to release in the near future. We'll have to see, though, as it's difficult to find proper time for it.
Do you have a message for your old contacts and/or anyone reading this?
I do. Thanks, guys, for the great times and cool stuff. Anyone who remembers me from the C64 scene (especially any members of The Force, from whatever country) is welcome to contact me. Thanks also to Andreas (Morpheus/Flash Inc.) for this interview. My C64 days were definitely a great time in my life, and I'd like to sign off with a slogan from The Force: "The best you can think of..."
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